projekt bauhaus: Can Design Change Society?


With this issue we begin a long-term collaboration with the renowned publisher Birkhäuser in order to regularly publish ARCH+ in English and bring the magazine to an international readership through their worldwide network. At least one ARCH+ issues per year will be conceived for international distribution and published entirely in English. Please check regularly what we have on offer. Depending on your location it might be better in terms of shipping to place your order directly with Birkhäuser.

projekt bauhaus: Can Design Change Society?

We are interested in the Bauhaus from a contemporary perspective— not the fetishization and mythologization of a legacy. In our view, many of the objectives of classical modernism show promise for the present day—be it design’s alignment to utility and function, the belief in the emancipatory potential of design, the integration of design with diverse forms of modernday under standing and technologies, or the critique of the present through design. Our focus lies less on actual Bauhaus products than on the school’s ambitions and methods. In the interests of a reflective modernism, we want to examine and critically reflect on the history of the development and impact of the historic Bauhaus, so that we can also learn from its mistakes and impasses.

This international edition on the work of project bauhaus now offers English readers a comprehensive overview of our multi-year research, artistic, performance, and publication project, which involved the participation of more than a hundred renowned scientists, artists, architects, and designers from around the world.


Arjun Appadurai, Andreas Bernard, Gui Bonsiepe, Beatriz Colomina, Kate Crawford & Vladan Joler, Keller Easterling, Boris Groys, Anke Hagemann & Elke Beyer, Leo Herrmann & Jan Westerheide, Ina Kerner, Reinhold Martin, Marion von Osten, Philipp Oswalt, Gilles Sabrié, T’ai Smith, Łukasz Stanek, André Tavares, Harald Trapp, Fred Turner, Wolfgang Ullrich, Mark Wigley.


Benjamin H. Bratton in 
conversation with Victoria Ivanova and Armen Avanessian // Amica Dall and Giles Smith (Assemble)
in conversation with 
Philipp Oswalt // Benjamin Foerster-Baldenius 
in conversation with Christian 
Hiller, Anh-Linh Ngo, and 
Alexandra Nehmer // Armin Linke in conversation with Georg Vrachliotis // Jean-Philippe Vassal in 
conversation with Philipp Oswalt // Peter Weibel in conversation with Georg Vrachliotis // Eyal Weizman in conversation with Victoria Ivanova 
and Armen Avanessian.

Artistic Contributions:

David Baltzer, Mark Dorf, Hans Eijkelboom, Ryoji Ikeda, Immo Klink, Armin Linke, Gilles Sabrié.

ARCH+ features 89 – The Bauhaus: 
A Redeeming Requiem

“High Culture is the Wrong Place 
for Punks if They Want to Rock 
the Theater Stage”Schorsch Kamerun in 
conversation with Antje Stahl 
and Alexandra Nehmer 
plus a photographic essay by 
David Baltzer.

Editorial team of projekt bauhaus: Can Design Change Society?: Christian Hiller, Angelika Hinterbrandner, Dorothee Hahn, Mirko Gatti, Alexandra Nehmer, Anh-Linh Ngo, 
Philipp Oswalt, Christine Rüb.

Co-editors who supported the editorial team:
Jan Bovelet (ARCH+ 222),
 Alexandra Nehmer (ARCH+ 230), 
Georg Vrachliotis, Armen Avanessian, 
and Victoria Ivanova (ARCH+ 234). Further collaborators: Nicole Minten-Jung (ARCH+ 222), Leo Herrmann, Jan Westerheide (ARCH+ 230), Alexander Stumm (ARCH+ 230, 234).


No less than three ARCH+ editions (all in German) were produced within the framework of project bauhaus. The first issue critically examines models and methods of societal change; the second, under the title Architectures of Globalization, considers contemporary architecture at the nexus of globalization and local self-determination. The concluding issue, Datatopia, poses an urgent question: does the widespread datafication of our societies challenge the underlying principles of our traditional cultural, political, economic, and ecological systems?

With project bauhaus we have subjected the ideas of the Bauhaus to a radical review. At the start of the project in 2015, the fundamental question Can Design Change Society? was formulated in a two-day symposium and in an exhibition at Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin. Over the next two years, we held a symposium addressing the topic Can the Universal be Specific? as well as the Preliminary Course: From Bauhaus to Silicon Valley. A special highlight of the project was the Datatopia Workshop and Summer School in 2018, which took place at the Floating University designed by raumlabor. This event served to link the discourse on the datafication of society to basic issues concerning new spaces for the transfer of information and knowledge. The project has now come to a close in 2019 with the events Ciao Bauhaus! and Bauhaus: A Redeeming Requiem, the latter a play directed by Schorsch Kamerun at the Volksbühne in Berlin, with which we would like to finally send the Bauhaus to its grave.

When we started the project five years ago, we wrote:

“The expansion of design into all realms of life and the world, from landscapes, roads, and cities to workplaces, the home and, deeper still, into people and their relationships, nanostructures, and the genome, is contemporary reality. In the context of these aetheticizations and subjectivizations of dominance, given the universal profusion of design its absence would perhaps be a 
liberating moment.”

Could the absence of design really be liberating? As long as design is only understood as aestheticization, this thesis certainly has its justification. But what if design encompasses more? What if it is only with the help of design that we can formulate a critique of the present, whose complexity we can no longer understand without technology?

Our initial question, “Can design change society?” has accompanied the project over the years. With this question, we implicitly put not only the Bauhaus’s ambition to influence society through design up for discussion, but also the image of the architect or designer associated with it, who can swoop in and steer social processes in the right direction with a few formal inventions.

So what is the role of design in society? One thing is certain: by designing, we can make a statement about how the world is or should be. Design is therefore increasingly used as an instrument of critique, which helps us to describe and penetrate the complexity of the world. It occupies a neuralgic point at which political and social questions meet, a point at which issues related to energy efficiency, climate, and the use of resources—in short, issues concerning our survival as a species—are dealt with. However, we cannot expect the creative disciplines to take on this superhuman task single-handedly. Designers are not godlike artist-engineers who can transform society and save the world. Yet this air of self-importance and arrogance is another legacy of modernism and the Bauhaus, which we sought to address with project bauhaus.
It is in this sense that our proposed Bauhaus “funeral” should also be understood, not as pure provocation or unproductive Bauhaus-bashing on its centennial. By symbolically burying the Bauhaus, we want to leave behind the self-referential loops in order to release energies for other alliances. For it is only in and with society, and together with other social actors—which is also a lesson of the historical Bauhaus—will we be able to change society.


project bauhaus

The historic Bauhaus, founded in 1914, was more project than institution in its 14-year existence: thrice closed and re-opened with changing backers and structures, educators, and directors, it was in a constant state of flux. In a five-year process leading up to the Bauhaus centenary year 2019, project bauhaus—a collaborative venture 
initiated by the nonprofit organization ARCH+ Verein zur Förderung des Architektur- und Stadtdiskurses e.V.—addressed this project character. It investigated the relevance of Bauhaus ideas through a variety of angles 
under the artistic direction of Jesko Fezer, Christian Hiller, Anh-Linh Ngo, Philipp Oswalt, Joanne Pouzenc, 
and Jan Wenzel, in collaboration with the project manager Katja Szymczak.

The different ways of working and collaborating in various combinations involved Berlin-based institutions such as the Heinrich Böll Foundation, Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW), the Floating University, and the Volksbühne, as well as the University of Kassel, ifa (Institute for Foreign Cultural Relations), Karlsruhe 
Institute of Technology, Department of Architecture, Chair of Architecture Theory, and the Volkswagen Foundation. The activities of project bauhaus 
were funded by the Bauhaus Today Fund of the German Federal Cultural Foundation, the German Federal Agency for Civic Education, the Schering Stiftung, and the Berlin Senate Department for Culture and Europe.

projekt bauhaus: Can Design Change Society?

Summer 2019
224 pages
+ 16 pages ARCH+ features

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ISBN 978-3-931435-52-3 //
ISBN 978-3-0356-1948-5

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